How to become an sophist critic in 5 min.

by phil on Thursday Apr 10, 2003 10:54 PM

Ready? All you have to do is take a concept x, do a little bit of deconstruction so it's like y, and then refer to the "banality of y." For example, if someone comes to you with some issue about cloning, talk about the "banality of scientific morality." If you are to discuss Picasso, talk about the "banality of modernism." You can pick any topic and decry its banality. It quickly settles the conversation with you being on top with a couple of Karma points.

On a separate related note, I should chronicle the "banality of banality" or rather the banality of people who frequently find themselves in intellectual conversations. I can already think of two other "stances" one can take to become an instant intellectual. One is to just be completely skeptical. To do this, one must make every idea seem implausible with the implication that the one who made the conjecture either has little facts or is just rolling with emotion. Another stance I've noticed, and have been one to take, is to simply be the devil's advocate. Take every concept and flip it upside down. It takes a little to get the hang of it, but eventually you'll be turning every fault into a positive for some greater plan while every positive becomes a trap waiting to be stepped on.

Needless to say, the point is that these stances are annoying and don't really make one an intellectual. I rarely find a good intellectual who independently and spontaneously generates points without a stance or "hidden agenda." In most cases people desperately want to be part of the conversation, they want to gain attention and rabble rouse, they want to defend themselves, they want to sound smart and with-it, and/or they are just acting on their bad habitual stances that have gained them social success in life.

Ultimately, when all the chatter of conversational slaughter has subsided, what's left are two victims: silence and truth.

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